Lasson on Anti-Semitism on University Campuses

Kenneth Lasson (University of Baltimore School of Law) has posted Antisemitism in the Academic Voice: Confronting Bigotry Under the First Amendment. The abstract follows. –YAH

The romanticized vision of life in the Ivory Tower – a peaceful haven where learned professors ponder higher thoughts and where students roam orderly quadrangles in quest of truth and other pleasures – has long been relegated to yesteryear. While universities like to nurture the perception that they are protectors of reasoned discourse, and indeed often perceive themselves as sacrosanct places of culture in a chaotic world, the modern campus, of course, is not quite so wonderful.

The academic enterprise in America was besmirched by racism early on: until the latter part of the Twentieth Century, segregation and ethnic quotas were the norm, not the exception. But what was once accepted prejudicial policy has now given way to an aberrational form of political correctness, which still vividly illustrates failures of scholarly rigor – the abandonment of reliance on facts, common sense, and logic in the pursuit of narrow political agendas – and which are all too often presented in the academic voice.

Among the abuses of intellectual honesty that have been taking place in American universities over the past decade is the loud and strident opposition to Israel. Nowadays a disturbing number of campuses are witnessing widespread protests against the Jewish State, which are frequently camouflaged as righteous protests against the “apartheid” policies of an “oppressive” regime. But modern anti-Zionism and antisemitism are virtually confluent and ultimately impossible to distinguish in any way but semantically.

This chapter examines the relationship between antisemitic and anti-Zionist speech and conduct, how they both play out on contemporary university campuses – and suggests ways by which such rhetoric and conduct can be Constitutionally confronted.

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